Holy Hierarch Theodosius of Chernigov

Saint
Theodosius, Archbishop of Chernigov, was born in the
seventeenth century at the beginning of the decade of
the thirties in Podolsk governance. He was descended
from a noble family, the Polonitsky-Uglitskys. His
parents were the priest Nikita and Maria. The saint
was taught Christian piety in his parents’
home, and this piety remained with him throughout his
life.

From childhood he was distinguished by a fervent love for
God and zeal for the Church. The innate abilities of the
youth came to light in the Kiev Brotherhood school at
Kiev’s Theophany monastery. The school was
flourishing at the end of the 1640s, when its rectors were
Archimandrite Innocent (Gizel), and Igumen Lazar
(Baranovich), who later became Archbishop of Chernigov.
Among its instructors were: Hieromonk Epiphanius
(Slavinetsky), Hieromonk Arsenius (Satanovsky), Bishop
Theodosius (Baevsky) of Belorus, Igumen Theodosius
(Saphonovich) and Meletius Dzik. These were the
enlightened men of those days. The comrades of St
Theodosius at the school would become future outstanding
pastors: Simeon Polotsky, Joannicius Golyatovsky, Anthony
Radivillovsky, Barlaam Yasninsky. The Kiev Brotherhood
Theophany school was the chief center in the struggle of
Orthodoxy against the assaults of Catholic clergy,
particularly the Jesuits.

St Theodosius grew to spiritual maturity near the relics
of Sts Anthony
and Theodosius
and other God-pleasers
of the Kiev Caves
, and he tried to imitate their holy
life as much as he could. He devoted all his free time to
prayer, meditation on God, and the reading of Holy
Scripture.

It might be surmised that the saint did not finish the
full course of studies, since the school ceased its
activity for several years following the devastation of
Podolia by the Poles. All his life the saint had a deep
regard for the Kiev Brotherhood monastery where he was
educated. In the Synodikon of the Kiev-Vydubitsk monastery
is the following comment about St Theodosius: “He
was a man of fine intellect, and generous to the Kiev
Brotherhood monastery.”

Upon receiving his education, the future hierarch received
monastic tonsure at the Kiev Caves Lavra with the name
Theodosius, in honor of St Theodosius of the Caves (May
3).

Metropolitan Dionysius (Balaban) of Kiev made him
archdeacon of Kiev’s cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia
Sophia) , and then appointed him steward of the episcopal
household. Soon he left Kiev and went to the distant
Krupitsky monastery near Baturino (in the Chernigov
diocese), which was famed for its strict monastic life.
There he was ordained to the holy priesthood, but remained
there only a short time.

In 1662, St Theodosius was appointed Igumen of the Korsun
monastery in Kiev diocese, and in the year 1664 he was
made head of the ancient Kiev-Vydubitsky monastery. This
monastery had fallen into the hands of the Uniates and
Poles at the beginning of the seventeenth century and was
in complete ruin. Thanks to the energy and initiative of
St Theodosius, the Vydubitsky Mikhailovsk monastery was
quickly restored.

He was particularly concerned with the order of church
services. He formed an excellent choir, which was famed
not only in Little Russia, but also in Moscow. St
Theodosius sent his singers to Moscow in 1685 to instruct
their choirs in Kievan chant.

As a strict ascetic himself, St Theodosius was concerned
with the spiritual growth of his monks. He founded a small
skete on the island of Mikhailovschina, not far from the
monastery, for brethren wishing to live in solitude. He
appointed the hieromonk Job (Opalinsky), one of the most
zealous monks of his monastery, to organize and administer
the skete.

St Theodosius had to live through some quite difficult
days, enduring many sorrows. He and other Igumens were
accused by Bishop Methodius of Mstislav and Orshansk of
betraying Russia in a supposed correspondence with the
enemies of Russia.

On September 20, 1668 St Theodosius explained the matter.
On November 17, 1668 the lie was exposed, and St
Theodosius together with the other Igumens were
vindicated. Archbishop Lazar (Baranovich) esteemed the
high spiritual qualities of St Theodosius and befriended
him. He called him “a sheep of the flock of Christ,
teaching by humility,” and he prophetically
expressed the wish that the name of St Theodosius might be
inscribed in Heaven.

When Archbishop Lazar became locum tenens of Kiev’s
Metropolitan See in 1689, he appointed St Theodosius as
his vicar in Kiev, while he remained at Chernigov. In his
capacity as vicar of the locum tenens of the Kiev
Metropolitan See, St Theodosius had an active role in many
churchly events. In 1685 he participated with the right of
a decisive vote in the election of Bishop Gideon
(Chetverinsky) as Metropolitan of Kiev, and he was sent to
Moscow with news of this event with Igumen Jerome (Dubin)
of Pereyaslavl . In Moscow, both representatives were
received with honor and esteem. Indeed, the result of this
delegation was the reuniting of the Kiev Metropolitan See
with the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1688 St Theodosius was appointed archimandrite of
Chernigov’s Eletsy monastery, replacing the deceased
Archimandrite Joannicius (Golyatovsky). In appointing St
Theodosius, Archbishop Lazar told him to spare no effort
in placing the Eletsy monastery in good order. This
monastery had not yet been set aright after the expulsion
of the Jesuits and Dominicans, and it was in great
disorder.

Through the efforts of St Theodosius, in his two or three
years as igumen, the monastery’s revenues and
properties increased, the church of the Dormition was
repaired, and the Elets Icon (February 5) was enshrined
there.

In his new position, the saint also assisted Archbishop
Lazar in many important matters. He participated in
drafting a conciliar reply to Patriarch Joachim of Moscow
in response to his questions about the attitude of the
Kiev Metropolitan See to the Council of Florence, and its
judgment on the question of the transformation of the Holy
Gifts as accepted by this Florentine Council. When the
Patriarch proved to be unsatisfied by these answers, the
Baturino Igumen St Demetrius (the future Metropolitan of
Rostov) was sent to him at the beginning of 1689. St
Theodosius journeyed with him as the representative of
Archbishop Lazar. He was entrusted with the delivery of a
letter to the Patriarch, and to clear up the
misunderstandings.

Because of his poor health, Archbishop Lazar wished to see
St Theodosius consecrated to the episcopate, seeing in the
saint a worthy successor to himself. On September 11, 1692
the election of St Theodosius as Archbishop of Chernigov
was confirmed, and he was consecrated in the Dormition
cathdral of the Moscow Kremlin two days later.

Little information regarding St Theodosius’s
administration of the Chernigov diocese has been
preserved. The saint worked incessantly to raise the level
of true Christian piety in his flock. He also focused on
maintaining old monasteries, and founding new communities.

At the very beginning of his episcopate, the the
Pecheniksk women’s monastery was established with
his blessing, and he himself consecrated the monastery
church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy
Theotokos.

In 1694, a skete was founded near Liubech. The same year,
at the Domnitsky men’s monastery, the saint
consecrated a temple in honor of the Nativity of the Most
Holy Theotokos. In the summer of 1695, he consecrated a
majestic temple in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos, on
the summit of Boldino Hill, near the ancient monastery of
St Elias. Under St Theodosius there was a special
enthusiasm for and strengthening of monasticism in the
Chernigov diocese.

The saint also devoted much attention to the clergy, and
he tried to choose worthy candidates for the priesthood.
He also encouraged the pastoral education of the Chernigov
clergy. He invited learned monks from Kiev, among whom was
St John (Maximovitch), the future Metropolitan of Tobolsk
(June 10), and also a helper and successor of St
Theodosius in organizing the Chernigov clergy school.

Strict uprightness in regard to clergy and flock, deep
compassion, concern and Christian love of peace were
distinguishing features in the activity of St Theodosius.
Not only did the Orthodox turn to him for help and advice,
but even persons of other confessions.

St Theodosius did not remain with his Chernigov flock very
long. Sensing the approach of death, he summoned the
administrator of the Briansk Svensk monastery, St John
(Maximovitch), and appointed him Archimandrite of the
Chernigov Elets monastery.

St Theodosius died on February 5, 1696, and was buried in
Chernigov’s Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral church, in
a special crypt near the right cleros. His successor St
John (Maximovitch), who was healed of a grievous illness
by St Theodosius, later placed a stone plaque over his
grave with a poetic inscription in gratitude for the
saint’s help. The special grace which St Theodosius
attained is shown by his ascetic life and his assistance
to all who turn to him in prayer.

The glorification of St Theodosius occurred on September
9, 1896.

Troparion — Tone 4

Holy Hierarch Theodosius, / you were found to be most
worthy among bishops / and a light to your flock when
translated to the eternal mansions. / Pray at the throne
of the King of Glory / that we may be delivered from all
present evil / and that our souls may be saved by your
prayers.

Kontakion — Tone 4

Holy Hierarch Theodosius, / you labored for Christ by
grazing your rational flock in spiritual pastures; / you
received the gift of healing from Christ the Savior / to
cure from bodily and spiritual infirmities all those who
come to your relics. / Pray for those who call on your
name, / that our souls may be saved from the enemy.

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